Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Supermarket shelves still under colonization in Africa

Article from AFRIC Editorial
The idea of supermarkets is still new to many Africans alongside other services such as Shopping malls, E-Banking, E-Learning, E-Commerce and many more. Many African cultures before colonization practiced a more primitive market system of “trade by batter” with no currency but after colonization, the idea of retail stores, markets and hawking was introduced to Africans with currencies. Recently, super markets and shopping malls have been established in many major towns/cities making it possible for people to have access to a wide variety of products at “affordable” prices. The most popular foreign supermarkets found in most African countries are Super U, Carrefour Market, Casino, Spar and Uchumi.

Despite the fact that many African countries were granted independence in the 60s, many aspects of the African culture and way of life are still under colonization. This is obvious in the case of supermarkets for the following reasons;


A great number of investors in this sector are foreigners constituting about 80% possibly because they have more capital to pay for licenses and build the required structures for the business. They often prefer to bring foreign partners believed to also have enough capital.

Many African governments give preference to foreign supermarket investors because it is perceived that they are wealthier, have supreme business ideas, are more equipped technologically and will sell products of better quality. They also prefer to partner with African investors that have much capital and are also well equipped.

Most often, foreign supermarkets partner with some African based companies just for services they and their partners cannot import from their country of origin, especially perishable agricultural goods such as meat, fruits and vegetables even though some of these fruits are imported. They buy at low prices, process and sell at high prices whereas these products would have been cheaper in the local markets.

The foreign investors often exploit their local partners by limiting them from supplying their products to other foreign or local investors.


Products sold in supermarkets range from cosmetics, library materials, clothing, electronics, perishable, non-perishable, fast food and other products which can easily be transported at a personal level home for consumption. Most of the products placed on foreign supermarket shelves are from foreign companies or manufactured by the supermarket owners themselves; as their logos and brand names can be seen on them. They prefer foreign products for which they charge high prices against local products. They accept only local products that cannot be imported at low prices and sell at high prices.

Price & Taxes

The price system in supermarkets is often high if the government of the country does not do price control. Most often, the governments of African Countries allow a high price system by these foreign supermarkets after some officials have received tips. The few local producers who partner with and supply to the foreign investors are limited by the fact that they do not have enough information or knowledge of demand and supply in business.

Marketing & Public Reaction

Regrettably, Africans show more confidence to foreign goods than home made products sold in supermarkets because they buy from supermarkets without bargaining the prices; but bargain before buying similar home made products sold in the local markets or shops.

Africans avoid and reject home made products sold in foreign supermarkets with the excuse that they are not of good quality despite the fact that they have been normalized.

Apart from the fact that foreign supermarkets advertise more on African media, many Africans still advertise and encourage others to go for foreign goods and sometimes discourage others from buying African goods.


Stakeholders of foreign supermarkets prefer to manage and control the business themselves or hire other foreigners. Africans are only hired to do manual work and customer services, porters, security personnel, drivers, sales agents and cashiers. Other functions such as supervision, administration, quality control, auditing, supply chain management, bank transactions and many others are given to foreigners or done by the proprietors themselves.

Though these supermarkets offer a wide range of products and services that are hard to come by in Africa, and are a source of employment for many Africans, they are also a source of repression for many who depend on small scale businesses such as food vendors, small scale farmers and local market sellers.

The signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union has only made matters worse as more foreign products are imported with little tariffs into the African continent.

African governments and regulatory bodies need to put in place measures that will favour Africans especially those who own small scale business. These supermarkets need to promote African made more. They should also be made to put African made products on front rolls on their shelves so as to promote visibility. In this light it will be a win-win relationship for both parties.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Credit image : google image

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